No matter what they call him, Mayor John Tory says he won’t be bullied into backing off subway dreams for Scarborough.
“Am I going to fight for the people who live in Scarborough and who want to be connected to the city by proper transit? You’re darn right I am,” Tory told me Tuesday.
And he’s not backing down from his op-ed comments in a Toronto newspaper in which he made some insinuations that ruffled feathers.
“Many of the subway’s loudest critics do not live or work in Scarborough, where more than half the population is born outside of Canada. When they say this is too much to spend on a subway, the inference seems to be that it’s too much to spend on this part of the city,” wrote the mayor.
Ouch. Good shots.
Nice to see that from the mayor for a change. You can’t always be everybody’s friend.
It’s neat that Councillors Gord Perks and Josh Matlow were ticked off, too. They are doing their jobs, as well.
“To bring up immigrants just saddens me,” Matlow said on CBC Radio’s Metro Morning. “No one should suggest that one group of Torontonians care more or less about immigrants because of a transit plan.”
Perks tweeted “I wonder @JohnTory if this is what you meant by improving the tone at council and getting us to work together.”
Somewhere up there in subway heaven, former mayor Rob Ford is not only smiling but howling with this pat on the back for his legacy. He told me before he died that he really wanted to be more supportive of Tory but “I just can’t find an issue I see eye to eye with him on.”
Here it is.
“Subways, subways, subways.”
More specifically a Scarborough subway extension. Whether it’s one stop fed to by LRTs or buses or three stops, Ford was adamant that Scarborough should receive the transit options it deserved.
That is all Tory is saying. And he is right to say it.
“It’s essential to bringing Scarborough in and giving people that vital connection to schooling and jobs,” Tory told me. “I will continue to speak for the people in Scarborough who take three buses and several hours to get to school or to a job. The subway extension to Scarborough will connect those people up to the rest of the city. It will make it easier for them to get to work or school. It will attract jobs and investment to Scarborough after decades in which we didn’t see a single office building built there.”
He is, refreshingly, prepared to take this gloves off to fight for it.
I don’t see anything wrong with Tory’s comment which was tough, from the heart, politics. Those complaining are not afraid to use what they need to in order to win a point.
Of course, the cost of this extension needs to be talked about — and not just by people who would use the money instead for Expo or not-so-safe injection sites — but by those who respect tax money.
The price tag is believed to be about $3 billion and every penny should be scrutinized. If public money needs to be spent or — as politicians always claim — invested, you won’t hear many voters complain about better transit or commuting options.
Build the damned thing. Tory says that is his plan.
“My approach is very simple: get the facts including the real costs on the table in an honest, transparent way and then make the case,” said Tory. “We must decide to build, not to endlessly debate, but to build transit across Toronto, including Scarborough. Having made that decision, get on with it.
“To re-debate and re-decide after all of the decisions and debates of the past will set transit in Toronto back by years and years and guarantee that Scarborough, alone among the regions of the city, will remain unconnected which means less access to opportunity for its people.”
Now there’s something to be angry about it.